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Black Flag

In many ways, Black Flag was the definitive Los Angeles hardcore punk band. Although their musicflirtedwithheavymetalandexperimentalnoise andjazzmore than that of most hardcore bands, they defined the imageandtheaesthetic.Throughtheir ceaselesstouring, the bandcultivated theAmericanunderground punk scene; every year,BlackFlag played ineveryarea of theU.S., influencingcountless numbers ofbands. Although theirrecording careerwashamperedby a draining lawsuit,which wasfollowed by aseemingly endlessstream of independentlyreleased records,the bandwasunquestionably oneof themost influential ...read more

In many ways, Black Flag was the definitive Los Angeles hardcore punk band. Although their musicflirtedwithheavymetalandexperimentalnoise andjazzmore than that of most hardcore bands, they defined the imageandtheaesthetic.Throughtheir ceaselesstouring, the bandcultivated theAmericanunderground punk scene; every year,BlackFlag played ineveryarea of theU.S., influencingcountless numbers ofbands. Although theirrecording careerwashamperedby a draining lawsuit,which wasfollowed by aseemingly endlessstream of independentlyreleased records,the bandwasunquestionably oneof themost influential Americanpost-punkbands. A full decadeand a half before thefusionof punk andmetal became popular,BlackFlag created aferocious, edgy, and ironicamalgamofundergroundaesthetics and gut- poundingmetal.Their lyrics alluded tosocial criticism and apolitical viewpoint, butitwas allconveyed asseething,cynical angst,which was occasionallyveryfunny. Furthermore, Black Flag demonstratedan affectionfor bohemia -- bothintermsofmusicalexperimentation and afondness forpoetry -- that reiterated theband's underground roots and prevented itfrombecomingnothingbutaheavymetal group. And it didn't matterwhowas in the band -- throughout the years, the lineupchanged numerous times --becausetheBlack Flag nameand four-bar logo becamepunk institutions. Black Flag was formed in 1977 by guitarist Greg Ginn, a graduate of UCLA. Ginn formed the bandwithbassistChuckDukowski;thepairsoonaddeddrummer Brian Migdol and vocalist Keith Morris. At the same time, GinnandDukowskiformedanindependent record label,SST,whichreleased the band'sfirst EP, Nervous Breakdown, in 1978. MorrisandMigdol departedthefollowing year-- Morris went on to formtheCircleJerks -- and they wererespectively replacedwithChavo Pederast andRobo. By the release of 1980'sJealousAgain, Black Flaghadbegun totour the U.S.relentlessly,building up asmall, butdedicated, following of fans. After the release of JealousAgain,Pederast leftthegroupandwasreplaced by Dez Cadena.However, Cadenapreferred to play guitar, and his transition to thatinstrumentin1981gavethegroup a heaviersound; hisreplacement on vocals was Henry Rollins, aWashington, D.C., fan who jumped on-stagetosingwiththe bandduring a NewYorkperformance. Early in 1981, Black Flag signed a record contract with Unicorn Records, a subsidiary of MCA. The band deliveredtheirfirstfull- lengthalbum,Damaged,toUnicorn; the label refused to release the record, citing the content of the musicastoodangerousandvulgar.Undaunted, Ginnreleased the album onhisown SST Records. Upon its release, thealbumreceivedconsiderable critical acclaim.Soonafterit appeared on theshelves, Unicorn sued Black FlagandSST overtherelease ofDamaged. For the next two years, the bandwaspreventedfrom using the nameBlack Flag or their logo onanyrecords.Duringthattime, the group continued to tour, andsurreptitiouslyreleasedEverything Went Black,adouble- albumretrospective that contained no mention oftheband, although it listed thenames of themembers onthefront cover.Thedisputeended in 1983, when Unicorn went bankrupt and the rights to theBlackFlag name andlogorevertedback totheband(by this time, Cadena hadleft to form his own group). As if to make up for lost time, Black Flag became impossibly prolific when it returned to recording in 1984. A newversionofthe group --featuringGinnon guitar and bass (the latter was credited to the pseudonym Dale Nixon),Rollins, anddrummer BillStevenson --recordedthealbums My War andFamilyMan. After those two albums wererecorded, the groupadded bassistKira Roessler and cut Slip It In,itsthirdofficialalbum of 1984. In additiontothosethree albums, Black Flagreleased thecassette-only Live '84 and the compilation TheFirstFourYears in1984, as well asreissuingEverythingWentBlack with all theproper credits restored. The group's touring and recordingpacedidn'tslowin 1985;they released threerecords: LooseNut,TheProcess of Weeding Out, and In My Head. By the end oftheyear,AnthonyMartinezreplacedStevenson on drums. After Black Flag released the live album Who's Got the 10½? in early 1986, Greg Ginn broke up theband.Ginnrecordedtwoalbumswiththemoreexperimental Gone, but he primarily concentrated on running SST Records, whichhad becomeoneofthemostimportantAmericanindependent labels ofthe era. By the time Black Flag broke up, SSThad already releasedalbums bysuch bandsasHüskerDü,theMinutemen, Meat Puppets, and Sonic Youth.For most ofthe late '80s, Ginn retiredfromperforming, choosingtooperateSSTRecordsinstead; during this time, the labelreleased the first recordingsfrom bandslikeSoundgarden, Dinosaur Jr.,andScreamingTrees.Ginnreturned to musicin 1993, releasing a solo album on his newrecordlabel, Cruz. Following Black Flag's breakup, Henry Rollins formed the Rollins Band. For the rest of the '80s, he releasedmusicrecordedwiththeRollinsBandonavariety of independent labels, as well as solo spoken-word recordings. In the early'90s,Rollinsbecameone of themostrecognizablefigures ofalternativemusic. « hide

Similar Bands: Minutemen, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, Saccharine Trust, Bad Religion

LPs
What The...
11/05/2013

1.2
226 Votes
In My Head
1985

3.4
264 Votes
Loose Nut
1985

3.2
258 Votes
Slip It In
1984

3.6
468 Votes
Family Man
1984

2.7
361 Votes
My War
1984

4
995 Votes
Damaged
1981

4.1
1,626 Votes
EPs
I Can See You
1989

2.7
43 Votes
Annihilate This Week
1987

2.7
33 Votes
The Process of Weeding Out
1985

3.4
89 Votes
TV Party
1982

3.6
79 Votes
Six Pack
1981

3.7
137 Votes
Jealous Again
1980

3.8
186 Votes
Nervous Breakdown
1978

4.3
522 Votes
Live Albums
Who's Got the 10 1/2?
1986

3.7
51 Votes
Live '84
1984

3.3
51 Votes
Compilations
The Complete 1982 Demos Plus More!
1996

3.7
39 Votes
Wasted... Again
1987

3.8
30 Votes
The First Four Years
1984

4.2
298 Votes
Everything Went Black
1982

4
121 Votes

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